How bad ARE the S&W Taylor Cutlery folding knives?


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Gunz
September 1, 2010, 09:47 PM
I am looking at the Extreme Ops folders and the Border Guards. These are the chunky 4.5 inch blades on sale from time to time at Big 5 for about $14 or 16. I know all about the arguments of the China 440-claimed blades, etc.

I was just wondering if any real owners have some honest feedback on how they are as occasional slicers, etc.

I figure they are cheap enough to just have a few around for soft cuts. I do not expect to surive in the wild with these, of course.

I typically carry a 4inch Voyager lock back from Cold Steel for $35.

Thanks for any objective replies.

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ArfinGreebly
September 1, 2010, 10:36 PM
Well, I only own one Taylor Brands knife, and it was a gift from someone who thought it looked nice.

I might have started carrying it, but it's not my first exposure to the family. I've had the privilege of cleaning and sharpening other Taylor knives for people who bought them because, well, they looked cool.

I found I was unhappy with the edge holding properties and unimpressed with the overall fit & finish, so I never picked up any for myself.

Now, to be fair, there is a Schrade/Taylor Folding Hunter that I occasionally drool over, but it's US-made and it retails for something like $120. It's a really nice piece, but I have the equivalent from Case XX, and it cost half that.


Philosophically, I have found my appreciation for quality -- even at higher prices -- has evolved quite a bit since I started my personal search for "what works best for me" over the last seven years.

I began by picking up inexpensive pieces to see which styles and patterns suited me best, and found nearly all of the cheap stuff to be unsatisfying to some degree. Then I picked up a couple of pieces costing three and four times as much. The quality differences were immediately apparent.

Since then I've learned about steels, heat treat, locking mechanisms, handle materials, grinds, bevels, and so on. I'm not any kind of expert, but I now actually understand why hso would spend $400 (give or take) on a Sebenza, and why people will spend $200 on things by Benchmade and Spyderco.


In my considered opinion, you will be happier if you skip the $15 knives and move on to pieces costing $35 and up. You can at least get basic quality in that price range.

For example, the newer Buck Vantage line of knives starts at around $35, and is well constructed, uses good steel with a decent heat treat, has a good quality grind and bevel, and a sharp, durable edge. The Vantage line is also available with upgraded steels and handle materials, up to around $75 or $80 for the Vantage Pro with S30V steel (Bos heat treat) and G-10 handles. The middle model, the Vantage Avid, uses Sandvik steel and DymondWood synthetic handles, and costs around $45 or $50. Oh, and Buck's pieces are made here, in Idaho.

And Buck is not alone. Spyderco offers serious quality at a reasonable price and they, too, are made in the US. Kershaw makes excellent pieces, although nowadays you will want to pay attention to where each piece is made. Kershaw has begun making some of their (previously made in Japan/Seki City) lines in China, although they still make several good models here in the US. And, to be fair, their Chinese product is still decent quality.

I have several cheap knives, acquired during my learning phase. I won't be buying any more of them.

I'll be saying my coin for pieces that come with quality built in. They last longer, hold up better, and -- frankly -- cost less in the long run.

I may never be able to afford a Sebenza, but I can appreciate why a man would lay down the dollars for one. If I had the dollars, I would, too.

Gunz
September 1, 2010, 11:01 PM
Thank you for the honest feedback, Arfin.

That was what I was looking to validate. I rather suspected the Taylor knives to be more conversational-pieces than actual letter openers.

My original intention was to get a few of these S&W knives to throw into the little toolboxes to cut duct tape, fishing line, packing tape, and maybe an apple or so. Worst case, I cold use it as something pointy and sharp for defense, of some rabid dog rushed me, and my really nice blade was not around.

To be honest, I am going through the educational phase of the steels and quality points. I am learning the benefits of the high end steels and blades. I really do like the Benchmades and Kershaws as entry-level nice knives. I lost a $75 Cold Steel once, and it just bugged me that it fell out of my pocket in a routine car cleaning.

THus, I typically use a Husky razor utility knife for most jobs, and a 3 inch blade for fruits. It was hard for me to carry around a $100+ blade.

The soft blade is a risk. I think I shall just get these S&W blades to cut pizza and use them as a conversational piece. The blade shapes are rather aggressive, and it would be nice if Taylor offered an upgraded line to boost their brand reputation.

shockwave
September 1, 2010, 11:22 PM
think I shall just get these S&W blades to cut pizza

In my knife world, kitchen knives and carry knives are very different animals. Food prep is for food knives. Carry knives are for utility tasks like cutting open boxes, things like that. SD knives are for nothing but SD.

That's important. There is a lot of discussion about how the Cold Steel Master Tanto is worthless because it's hard to sharpen. But that kind of knife will never see box duty, or apple-cutting duty, its only job is to be a SD weapon.

If you're like me, you have a lot of knives. A very great deal many knives. Each has a purpose. But I can't imagine using any of them for food prep. That's just crazy. The Henckels and the Japanese knives do that. The others are for very limited tasks like opening packages and people.

hso
September 1, 2010, 11:26 PM
Some are not worth the money and some are. The ones that aren't outweigh the ones that are.

The key with Taylor/S&W/etc. is to look for designs by Darryl Ralph and other known makers who require Taylor to stick to some minimal quality requirements.

ArfinGreebly
September 2, 2010, 12:45 AM
By the way, if you're looking for something to lug around with a 3-inch blade, you might seriously consider a sod buster of some kind.

In my current rotation, I often carry a Case (full-sized) Sod Buster. Lowe's hardware used to carry the big ones, but now only carry the Sod Buster Jr (which is still a lot of knife).

A large sodbuster will do kitchen duty, utility duty, and industrial duty. I have a full-sized Case sodbuster that I bought used. It has a small chunk burnt from the spine where someone evidently shorted out a circuit of some kind. I cleaned up the edge and it's in a pouch on my hip as I write this, part of my EDC rotation.

The smaller sodbuster will drop into a pocket and yet is still a serious tool.

Most places, you can pick up a Case (large) Sod Buster for about $25, more or less. The fit & finish is very good, the steel is quite acceptable, and they come friggin' sharp out of the box.

This one isn't mine,
but it's a fine example
of the full-sized pattern.
You can find it here (http://www.knifeworks.com/caseamericanbluebonesodbuster.aspx). $21. 126993

Why would I suggest a sodbuster?

It's a good tool. It's inexpensive. It's all kinds of useful.

And you won't be heartbroken if you lose it. You'll just order up another one and carry on.

Just a suggestion.

Yo Mama
September 2, 2010, 10:22 AM
The S& W knives are great to beat up bad. I have a SWAT II, and it was ten bucks at Big 5. I exclusively use this for bird hunting, and when I need to chop wings off it goes through the bone easily as it's a heavy blade. I don't need to sharpen it often, and it really takes some abuse including alot of water as I wash the blood off and then put in dishwasher.

NOW, as a field knife I love it, but I would never rely on a folder for defensive use untill I got the Benchmade Axis lock as recommended here. I also won't ever use the Benchmade to go through bone ect...

Alot of times people ask me to cut things, if I have the cheapy on me no problem, but no way I'll use my expensive knives.

PRM
September 2, 2010, 11:45 AM
I have a side business where I sell knives. The S&W Taylor Brand knives are one of my best sellers. I probably sell around 200 of them a year. Never had one returned. They are an affordable knife that holds up and functions well, and won't break the bank.

When my step-son was in Iraq, he broke his Gerber folder, and I sent him a Taylor Brand S&W Homeland Security to use while in country. When he got back he showed me the knife. He said he intentionally abused and used it hard on everything from boxes to strapping bands. The black finish was almost gone, but other than finish, it looked and functioned like a new knife.

I was in Afghanistan last year. I took an Emerson Super CQC7 as a folder. The Emerson is a great knife, but from a cost VS quality aspect, I would have taken an S&W if I had it to do over.

Some probably don't like a low cost knife (confusing cost with quality), but I will do things with a cheaper knife I would not do with a $200 - $300 blade. I am not arguing that some more expensive knives may or may not have better steel. But, what will it be used for? One of the knives I use the most is an Opinel # 8, that I bought for $10 close to 20 years ago.

Taylor Brands is a US Company and although they have their knives made over seas, they do offer a lifetime warranty.

SlamFire1
September 2, 2010, 12:04 PM
I purchased at least two, maybe three of the S&W knives from Smokey Mountain Knife Works. I think they were $10.00 each. Each of these knives are liner locks.

For blades that were described as 440C, well they are not very hard. You can put an edge on, and it is easy to sharpen, but the edge does not last very long.

The fit and finish is quite good.

For $10.00, you can scrape gaskets off of cylinder heads and not feel bad.

You get what you pay for.

My small Buck stockman, made in China, the steel is much better than my Chinese made Rough Ridge, John Primble. Don't know why but the Buck is a better knife.

Deltaboy
September 2, 2010, 11:00 PM
I got a swat S&W and it works great for my daily job. I cut open nylon bands on cases of paper and opening mail and stuff like that. I abuse it run it hard. and it holding up so far. I don't mistreat my old old timers , bucks or bokers like that. :D

Gunz
September 6, 2010, 01:54 PM
I truly appreciate everyone taking the time to share some candid experiences and opinions of these blades. On the whole, they reflect what I intend to do with the knives.

I spent about an average of $14 to $16 on these things, since they were on sale at Big 5 shops.

I now have one for every tool box in the truck, boat, shop, etc. Bottom line, as a chunk of steel with an edge, they are decent enough. They actually look good. I do not expect S30V or 154CM or anything like that. The field service record shared by teh people who beat them up was good enough for me.

It is like that line James Caan used in the "Eraser" movie, "I can't believe you got me with that cheap mail-order crap!!" when he was stuck by Aaaahnold with the knife belt buckle on the aircraft. :D

bowfin
September 6, 2010, 04:15 PM
I think people get WAY too obsessive about knife steel. Case in point, what are you going to do with your pocket knife that you'll notice the difference between 440C and VG-10 steel?

Now, if you put down identical pocket knives featuring blades of the above mentioned, I'm taking the VG-10 if they are both free. However, if one is $15 and one is $125, I'm taking the price difference. I myself cannot envision the blade steel worth the increase for what I do with a pocket knife.

Survival knives? Tactial knives? (whatever those are) I can't say.

Skinning knives and butchering knives, I will say that after a couple hundred deer from field to freezer, I don't care for 420 steel if I have 2 or 3 deer to do in one sitting. I put money into a good sharpening steel, so I don't need a D-2 or ATS-34 blade. Then again, if you haven't butchered many deer, you might find yourself making three times as many cuts, running into bone, etc., so that could be a deciding factor.

In the end, it is our money, and we can spend it or keep it as we wish.

Those who use their knives for "batoning" (as near as I can figure out from other forums, knife abuse under the guise of making labor intensive kindling), then you are going to want the higher end steel.

By the way, I am guilty of having a premium grade steel fetish, When I ground industrial tools, I never used M-2 if I could find a piece of M-42, or better yet, Tantung or Stellite...but I wasn't paying for it!:)

Deltaboy
September 6, 2010, 08:21 PM
My Taylor S&W swat is for ruff stuff. My sodbuster and others are for neater work.

james_bond
September 6, 2010, 08:46 PM
The S&W knives are worth exactly what they sell for, and that aint bad.

TimboKhan
September 6, 2010, 11:11 PM
I don't think they are all that great as a group. From a quantifiable aspect, the bulk of their line uses 4034 Stainless Steel, which isn't a particularly great steel.

Now, with that being said, for the average knife user, they are probably going to work out just fine. I can't think of a single normal task I would do during the day where they wouldn't be just as good as any other knife. I personally would be hesitant to use them hard, and I personally would rather place my trust in a knife with better steel.

I feel that there are knives both below and only marginally above the price of the average S&W knife that I think represent much stronger values. Thats strictly my opinion, and if you like S&W knives, I say keep on keepin' on.

Black Toe Knives
September 7, 2010, 05:56 AM
I think people get WAY too obsessive about knife steel. Case in point, what are you going to do with your pocket knife that you'll notice the difference between 440C and VG-10 steel?

Cheap pocket knives are not made with 440C. You be hard pressed to find a real "440c" Knife under 30.00 plus dollars. There are about 8 grade of SS tool steels below 440C. 440C is still considered by knifemaking community as a Super Steel. We don't use 440C for one reason, because the average buyer thinks it is a cheap steel. But when the Great Edmond Davidson wants to make a $20,000 dollar knife for one of his famous clients. I guarantee he is making it out of 440C.

I make, own and use many different knives. I assure there is difference between steels. Go to Walmart and get a 10 kitchen knife and Go get a $30.00 Heckle Kitchen knife. Use them daily. You will see a difference real quick.

Like anything else you get what you pay for. A $10.00 knife is just that. Once a retailer pays $5.00 for it from a distributor that paid 2.50 that includes labor, Overhead, shipping, and packaging. Now when you pay 100.00 for a knife do the same math. What kind of materials can you buy for $25.00. I can make a high end pocket knife for $25.00 worth of materials.

lloveless
September 7, 2010, 05:04 PM
At home I use OLD HICKORY 7 inch boning knives that cost $4.00 at Wally world. I got a second one to use as a hunting knife(made a leather sheath for it). It has carbon steel and it works great. I also have a S&W extreme ops that I paid $10.00 for. It is every bit the knife I paid $45.00 for and lost. Yes, I use it for food prep, gutting fish, cutting boxes and self defense if I have to. I travel a lot and can't take a whole bunch of knives with me. Besides that, it looks good.
ll

TimboKhan
September 12, 2010, 11:11 AM
Old Hickory knives used a good carbon steel. Smith and Wesson knives do not use a particularly good steel, period.

TNboy
September 22, 2010, 10:28 PM
I've had a number of S&W knives. For what you pay for them they are good knives. They seem to hold a pretty good edge and need occasional sharpening, which is no big deal. I've worn out a couple of them, one of which was an assisted opener that I paid about $35 for. They do tend to fall apart after a little while but I could get about a years use out of each one, and that was a hard years use, not bad for $35. I will note that I've seen these knives with varying price tags. The first one I had I paid $45 for, I lost it and stumbled upon another at a different store and paid $25 for the same knife.

hso
September 23, 2010, 12:45 AM
At 10 years and still going strong my Sebenza averages out to less than $35 per year.

Some folks want to pay on the installment plan and others are willing to pay up front. 10 years of cutting is 10 years of cutting.

lloveless
September 23, 2010, 04:31 PM
Wow. It sounds like ya'lls hard use is abuse. I have never worn out any knife(or broke one), and the most I've ever paid was $35.00 for a S&W. I kept it around 4 years and lost it. I'll never pay that much again.
ll

Ashcons
September 23, 2010, 04:46 PM
I picked up one of the S&W Extreme Ops tanto-style knives, wanting a cheap EDC for boxes and all the other myriad things you end up needing a knife for once you carry one. I recently misplaced it after having used it about a year and had a few, minor problems with it.

1) the locking mechanism, when it was new, would sometimes hyper-extend and require an additional tool (dime or screwdriver) to muscle it back into place to unlock the blade

2) after a year, the plastic washer that kept the blade tight, seemed to loosen up a bit - I never tried tightening the screw up front to increase the tension because it did not seem like the blade itself was looser upon opening, there was just a bit of side-to-side play (probably from too much prying)

3) cheap steel obviously required frequent sharpening depending on frequency of use

What I liked about it, was it was cheap enough that misplacing it was not an event to cry over. Obviously you get what you pay for and for a tackle box or edc/general use knife, this handled everything I needed it to - that's value to me. If $15 is your budget for a knife, go for it. If you can afford a higher quality tool, go for it! My next cheap EDC will be a Spyderco Native (http://www.amazon.com/Spyderco-Native-Lightweight-Plain-Knife/dp/B0002IO16E/ref=sr_1_1?s=gateway&ie=UTF8&qid=1285271596&sr=8-1) straight-edge, though, as I did not like the tanto style and do not care for serrations.

After reading this forum and learning about steel quality, I have a wishlist of knives nearly as long as my gun wishlist :rolleyes: (thanks a ton for that one, Hso)

Black Toe Knives
September 23, 2010, 06:34 PM
At 10 years and still going strong my Sebenza averages out to less than $35 per year.

Some folks want to pay on the installment plan and others are willing to pay up front. 10 years of cutting is 10 years of cutting.
HSO, How often do you sharpen it?

Big Bill
September 23, 2010, 07:20 PM
I'm a wierd duck, I guess. I buy some expensive knives that sit in my safe, and then carry a S&W or Rough Rider folder for EDC. I've got lots of great knives: Spyderco, ESEE, Benchmade, Buck, Sog, etc. But, I carry a S&W or a Rough Rider, like this one:

http://www.smkw.com/webapp/eCommerce/products/Rough+Rider%26%23153%3B/Rough+Rider%26%23153%3B+Large+Stockman+with+Yellow+Composition+Handle/RR725.html

Or, this one:

http://www.smkw.com/webapp/eCommerce/products/Rough+Rider%26%23153%3B/Rough+Rider%26%23153%3B+Mini+Canoe+with+Red+Jigged+Bone+Handle/RR271.html

JR47
September 23, 2010, 07:37 PM
Oddly enough, there was an article in the July, 2009 issue of Knives Illustrated that dealt with the subject of knife steels. It was by Michael S. Black. He has developed a slightly different testing format for edge sharpness, and how long it lasts. Still uses 1/2" manila or sisal rope, just doesn't test to absolute, sawing, dull.

One of the points he brings up is that the same knives, same models, same steels, and same edge geometry and hardening, will often yield widely divergent results. It would appear that the "newest, greatest formulations" are a bit lacking in repeatable composition. This could well go a long ways to explaining the divergent experiences of people who use the same knifes.

There is a point to the formulations of steel, but, like everything American, we tend to push the minutia. If .0001% of unobtanium is really going to improve a steel noticeably, why isn't everyone using it?

For the average user of a knife carried in their pocket, they will never know the difference between a $35.00 knife, and a $200 knife. Not many people actually carry knives routinely that are required to cut wire, leather, heavy rope, or create a lean-to out of green wood. Nor will they ever need to clear sections of brush with their pocket knives. Instead, they will open boxes from the mail, cut string, and do a myriad of much less strenuous chores.

There is also the matter of a proven disparity between multiple knives of the same model as to their cutting and edge-holding abilities. After all, how does one measure them? The factory has no set standard, nor any production-line testing of a batch of knives. They tell you how good they are, and the usual reason for under performance is to blame the user, and not the knife.

Read the article, it is a simple and straight forward piece, and makes one wonder why we have allowed the knife industry to develop as it has.

JTW Jr.
September 24, 2010, 12:11 AM
The factory has no set standard, nor any production-line testing of a batch of knives.

Agree to a point , but when you have Paul Bos ( well , now his successor ) doing the HT , you can be pretty sure the steel was treated correctly and consistently , too bad all manufactures don't use his services.

Just as the average knife user can't tell the difference between a $35 knife and a $200 knife , the average gun owner couldn't tell the difference between the quality or a Lorcin and a Walther.

For those of use that do care and are more than the average user ( if you are here and asking questions you are already way above the average user ) , there are better options that S&W branded knives.

hso
September 24, 2010, 12:41 AM
thanks a ton for that one, Hso

:evil:


HSO, How often do you sharpen it?

Jim,

Not being "cute", but whenever it needs it based on use. If I'm not doing "stupid" things with it like cutting wire that averages every 3 weeks or so touched up on a fine ceramic rod I have in my office. Just a rod, no jig. I'll have a minute and test the edge and if it drags going through paper I'll just prop one end of the rod on an old Spyderco mousepad and bring the edge back and then strop on a leather "coaster". If I've been stupid to it I'll do it at home and take a few more minutes.

Black Toe Knives
September 24, 2010, 07:22 AM
Just as the average knife user can't tell the difference between a $35 knife and a $200 knife


My wife is a knife snob and she operates a Franchise, which prep vegetables daily about 40 or 50 Cases of Tomatoes a week.
One thing I have noticed. The crew will grab the high end knives every time. That is knives you see on the prep table.

She will hit the high end knives on one of the cheap 4.00 Smith sharpeners with the steel and ceramic sticks and I never see them in my shop. The cheap knives I see every few weeks and they always need a complete sharpening on my belt sander.

So if you want to believe that the average user would never notice the difference. I have seen it first hand. They do. But to be honest most people don't care if they carry a 3 dollar knife or 300 dollar knife.

hso
September 24, 2010, 08:54 AM
Jim,

Depends upon what the definition of "the average user" is. Your wife and her staff are professional uses putting knives through their paces in a prep kitchen day in day out. It wouldn't take more than an hour working with a new knife to know whether it was "good" or not and put it down and pick up something else to work with.

The average person, though, doesn't use a EDC knife very much, perhaps not even once a day. The types of knives being discussed here are probably used less than a couple of times a month by the majority of purchasers so they never get beyond the nearly new in box stage. Our members probably will use their knives more, but most won't get the daily use your wife's employees do.

waterhouse
September 24, 2010, 11:25 AM
I carried one as a backup/loaner when I was in the Border Patrol. I generally used a Sebenza, but several times a day someone would ask to borrow a knife and I'd hand them the S&W.

No one was prying with it, but other than that it saw a lot of use and abuse. Some of the packaging material that smugglers wrap drugs in can be pretty hard on knife edges, so it got sharpened a lot. It made it about a year and then the blade started getting a lot of play in it. It now resides in a tool box where it gets used a few times a year.

Great knife? No. Good knife for the money? I think so. As hso implied, if it is going to see hard use you may replace it every year, but if you loan it out and it isn't returned you aren't out much.

JTW Jr.
September 25, 2010, 01:39 AM
My wife is a knife snob and she operates a Franchise, which prep vegetables daily about 40 or 50 Cases of Tomatoes a week.
One thing I have noticed. The crew will grab the high end knives every time. That is knives you see on the prep table.

She will hit the high end knives on one of the cheap 4.00 Smith sharpeners with the steel and ceramic sticks and I never see them in my shop. The cheap knives I see every few weeks and they always need a complete sharpening on my belt sander.

So if you want to believe that the average user would never notice the difference. I have seen it first hand. They do. But to be honest most people don't care if they carry a 3 dollar knife or 300 dollar knife.

Sounds to me those are people who are beyong the average user , as HSO said , they are using a knife more in a week than most will in a year. They might not understand why it cuts better , but they can certainly tell in use , that alone makes them way past the average knife user.

lloveless
September 25, 2010, 03:05 AM
I use my knife daily to cut a hunk of cheese, chop veggies, open packages, cut bread, string etc. I don't pry with any knife, cut wire(that is what wire cutters are for) use it as a screw driver,etc. My knife a S&W Extreme Ops. is typically sharpened when it is dull. That happens approx once a month. Since I have been told via this thread that it has lousy metal, I guess I have just had good luck or I take good care of my equipment.
We live in an unprecedented time when we have the best of everything. Lots of choices in every field.
ll

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